Hempstead, N.Y. – Senior Amber Stobbs scored a clutch goal in the 73rd minute and junior Sam Scolarici added a key insurance marker to lift Hofstra to a 2-0 victory over UNC Wilmington in the CAA Tournament quarterfinals on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon at Hofstra Soccer Stadium.
Stobbs capitalized on junior Lulu Echeverry’s feed to break a scoreless tie at 72:33 and Scolarici added an unassisted goal with 2:35 left in regulation to send the fourth-seeded Pride into the semifinal round. Hofstra improved to 10-5-3 and will face top-seeded James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va. on Friday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.
Freshman goalkeeper Friederike Mehring made two saves to earn her first career shutout. Mehring garnered the clean sheet in her first career postseason game as Hofstra held a 28-8 shot advantage. The fifth-seeded Seahawks ended its season 9-10 and lost to the Pride in the conference tournament for the second straight season. Hofstra beat UNCW, in the 2012 CAA championship game.
Stobbs netted her second goal of the season when she scored from nearly 12 yards out to the low left side. Near the top of the box, the veteran forward fired a shot that beat UNCW goalkeeper Carolyn Huddy for the 1-0 lead.
Scolarici then tied a precious school record with her CAA-leading 17th goal. After collecting the ball near the left sideline, she dribbled into the box alone and beat Huddy one-on-one in the 88th minute. That goal tied the Hofstra single-season record that was previous set by Carlene Wawrzonek in 1994.
Hofstra controlled possession and crafted an 18-2 second-half shot advantage. The Pride played stingy defense in front of Mehring with seniors Ruby Staplehurst and Brittany Farriella joining sophomore Mallory Ullrich. Sophomore Leah Galton, the CAA Preseason Player of the Year, moved from forward to defense for the game and played all 90 minutes as a center back to fortify the back line.
The move paid dividends as Hofstra did not surrender a single corner kick and generated five corners on offense. It was the second straight season Galton has played as a defender in a CAA Tournament game and helped Hofstra record a shutout. She was part of the defense that blanked then top-seeded and host William & Mary on their home field in last year’s CAA semifinals.
Despite the possession advantage, Huddy kept UNCW in the game with eight saves. The Seahawks also were boosted with strong defense when Allye Mertes logged a defensive save by knocking Farriella’s header off the goal line near the left post in the 71st minute.
Scolarici was active around the net all game and countered three more shots than the entire UNCW squad by totaling 11 attempts, including three on goal. With Galton playing back, Stobbs and Echeverry picked up the offensive slack with Stobbs tailing seven shots and Echeverry putting both of her shot attempts on net.
Hofstra tied James Madison, 3-3, in the regular season finale at home last Sunday. The Pride will now face the Dukes for the second time in less than two weeks. JMU, along with second-seeded William & Mary, earned a bye in the quarterfinal round. The third-seeded Northeastern Huskies will face the sixth-seeded Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens on Sunday in the other quarterfinal matchup at 4 p.m.